I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On by Khadijah Queen
YesYes Books / 2017 / prose poetry
Recently out from YesYes Books is Khadijah Queen’s new collection of prose poetry, I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On. In I’m So Fine, which is marketed as a narrative, Queen recounts the many disparate moments that tell the story of her own objectification by men, with each moment defined by the outfit she remembers wearing. These gendered interactions are complicated, though; she acknowledges and interrogates them, but also enjoys her conventional femininity and the feeling of being fine. In stylish, unbreaking prose, Queen rehashes to us with the urgency of a memory rushing back. The collection explores the sense of confidence that a costume lends and the ways in which our own genders and sexualities can be costumes through which we engage with the world. In the words of Natalie Diaz, I’m So Fine is “a gaze back at the gaze, is inevitable freedom wearing a flowered dress Kente cloth bomber jacket red lipstick white jeans a velvet choker white platform sandals a black turtleneck electric blue column dress an eggshell blouse with a high collar & pearl buttons is wearing a powerful woman’s body and mind.”
“Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian
The New Yorker / December 11th, 2017 / short fiction
It would be silly to ignore and not recommend reading “Cat Person” by Kristen Roupenian, the short story that went viral soon after it was published online by The New Yorker a month ago. “Cat Person” is a story about two characters, Margot and Robert, and their short lived romance that developed mostly via texting. It’s also a story about turning someone into a character, and acting within the bounds of the character that you’ve likewise been turned into. What’s successful about the story is not only its relatability to a millennial audience—Roupenian really nails texting chemistry—but also its ability to honestly depict a contemporary romance without glossing over all of the learned abuses that characterize cishetero dating and lust. Through Margot, Roupenian explores the lengths to which women will go in order to protect the egos of men, which hit a nerve for some male readers (source: one Twitter user created the account Men React to Cat Person @MenCatPerson to post screenshots of male criticism of the story). Fiction functions effectively when it reveals something about ourselves and our worlds. As I read “Cat Person,” I saw myself not only in Margot, but in Robert too, in his delicate and purposeful ways through which he turned a hopeful romance into a melodrama, using the little he knew of Margot as a template, the ongoing texting exchange lending what he wanted to see in her to surface.
“Peach Picks” is a column of literary news and recommendations written by the editors of Peach Mag, an online literary magazine based in Buffalo. For inquiries, contact the editors at firstname.lastname@example.org.